The good, the bad, and the irrational: Three views of mental content

Philosophical Psychology 17 (1):95-106 (2004)
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Recent philosophy of psychology has seen the rise of so-called "dual-component" and "two-dimensional" theories of mental content as what I call a "Middle Way" between internalism (the view that contents of states like belief are "narrow") and externalism (the view that by and large, such contents are "wide"). On these Middle Way views, mental states are supposed to have two kinds of content: the "folk-psychological" kind, which we ordinarily talk about and which is wide; and some non-folk-psychological kind which is narrow. Jerry Fodor is responsible for one of the most influential arguments that we need to believe in some such non-folk-psychological kind of content. In this paper I argue that the ideas behind Fodor's premises are mutually inconsistent - so it would be irrational to believe in a Middle Way theory of mental content no matter how many of Fodor's premises you find plausible. Common opinion notwithstanding, we have to choose between internalism and externalism, full-stop



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The structure of content.Colin McGinn - 1982 - In Andrew Woodfield (ed.), Thought And Object: Essays On Intentionality. New York: Oxford: Clarendon Press.
All the Difference in the World.Tim Crane - 1991 - Philosophical Quarterly 41 (162):1-25.
What narrow content is not.Ned Block - 1991 - In Barry M. Loewer (ed.), Meaning in Mind: Fodor and His Critics. Cambridge: Blackwell.

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